Bodie Island Lighthouse

North Carolina’s Bodie Island Lighthouse is one of six lighthouses still in operation in North Carolina.  Built in 1872, it’s one of a dozen brick tower lighthouses in America  and is one of the few lighthouses to still use an original first order Fresnel lens.

The lighthouse underwent restoration between 2009 and 2013.  Under the care of the National Park Service and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the beautiful tower is open to visitors who wish to climb its 214 steps.

This photo was taken on a visit in 1999 with a film camera.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Two Churches, Viana do Castelo

As I’ve said before, churches in Portugal are like Starbucks in America;  there seems to be one on every corner and, in some cases, more than one on the corner.  These two beautiful little churches, across from the Viana do Castelo railway station, share the same parking area.

The church on the left is the Convent and Church of the 3rd Order of Saint Francis and was built in the 18th century.  The church on the right is the Convent and Church of Saint Anthony, also built during the 18th century.  Both are built in the Manueline style unique to Portugal.  I love the similarities in the two churches, even as both strive to be unique.

I love the facade of the Church of Saint Anthony because of the figures in the niches and the offset bell tower.  I also like the slightly rougher stonework.  It shows that the church is a few decades older than its neighbor. The Church of Saint Francis is slightly younger, with a cleaner facade.  Both churches, though, are really beautiful.

Viana do Castelo is a beautiful little city.

Two Churches

Chafariz, Viana do Castelo

I usually learn something new when I post one of my photos, and this time is no exception.  This beautiful old fountain, located in the Praça da Republica, designed by João Lopes the elder,  dates from 1554 and was once the primary source of water for Viana do Castelo.  The fountain is carved from granite and situated at the top is an armillary sphere and a cross of the Order of Christ.

What, I asked myself, is an armillary sphere?  Simply put, it’s a three dimensional map, if you will, of the stars and other celestial bodies, with the earth as its center and the rings representing longitude and latitude.  It was an important navigational instrument during Portugal’s Age of Discoveries, having been introduced to Henry the Navigator by the Knights Templar, at the time known in Portugal as the Order of Christ.  The armillary sphere is a common element in manueline architecture and features prominently on the flag of Portugal.

To the right of the fountain is the Igreja da Misericórdia.  The original church was built in the late 16th century and was also designed by João Lopes the elder.  In the early 18th century, the original church was mostly demolished during renovations and was replaced by the beautiful structure you see in the photo.  My favorite part of the structure are the two rows of caryatids that help support the facade.

Viana do Castelo was one of our favorite places on our visit to Portugal.  Our long term goal is to retire to Viana do Castelo.  I can’t wait for that day to come.

Old Fountain

World Wildlife Day, 2019

Since 2013, March 3rd has been recognized as World Wildlife Day by United Nations Member States, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s animal and plant life.  Each year’s celebration has a theme.  The theme for 2019 is “Life below water: for people and planet”.

This photo of Steller’s Sea Lions was taken in Stephens Passage, outside Juneau, Alaska.  To give you a bit of perspective, Steller’s Sea Lions are the largest sea lion and the third largest piniped (behind the walrus and the sea elephant).  Male Steller’s Sea Lions can reach weights of  nearly 2,500 pounds, nearly three times the size of a female.  It’s a pretty safe bet that all the sea lions on this buoy are female.

Traditionally, the population of Steller’s Sea Lions has been divided into two stocks, eastern and western, with the eastern stock, including the sea lions shown here, inhabiting the western coast of North America, ranging from the Gulf of Alaska south to central California.

The eastern stock of Steller’s sea lion is classified as “near threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  The western stock is listed as “endangered” due to a steadily declining population, possibly due to commercial over-fishing, which has reduced the sea lion’s natural food supply, both in quantity and in quality.

Stellar Sea Lions

Hospital and Church of San Marcos, Braga

There are beautiful churches everywhere in Braga.  The Hospital and Church of San Marcos, located on Largo Carlos Amarante, is one of the most beautiful.

There has been a church dedicated to Saint Mark on this site since the 12th century.  The original chapel, which was also a Templar convent, was replaced by a charity hospital in 1508.  In the 18th century the hospital and church underwent a major renovation designed by Braga architect Carlos Amarante, who also designed Bom Jesus do Monte, the famous sanctuary and pilgrimage site located just outside Braga.

The late baroque/ early neoclassical structure is topped with life-size statues of the apostles.  In a niche above the center door, a statue of Saint Mark watches over everyone who enters the building.  By the way, the purple banners are to announce the upcoming Semana Santa, or Holy Week.

Church of San Marcos